A Man For All Seasons
Director: Michael J. Renzi
Show Type: Regular
Synopsis: Can a man of faith follow his conscience and yet keep his head? Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor under King Henry VIII, struggles between devotion to his religion and loyalty to his king. If he fails to approve the king's divorce, he and his family face Henry's wrath. This historical drama sparkles with witty dialogue and surprising humor as it brings to life a world of scheming saints and sinners. A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS won 4 Tony awards and became an Oscar-winning movie.
Cardinal Wolsey played by - Bill Hurley
Catherine Anger played by - Barbara Whitney
Chapuys Attendant played by - Jonathan Meester
Common Man played by - Charles Kaffka
Duke of Norfolk played by - Fred Berg
King Henry VIII played by - Joe Hoyt
Lady Margaret More played by - Tara Schulte-Peters
Master Richard Rich played by - Emerson Caress II
Signor Chapuys played by - Andy Leahy
Sir Thomas More played by - Chuck Cairns
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury played by - Bernie Jablonski
Thomas Cromwell played by - Warren Sampson, Jr.
William Roper played by - David Luecht
Scheming saints and sinnersDrama Group to stage historical drama October 30, 2008 BY Don Snider, Correspondent
If you had a choice to sacrifice your life or your moral conscience, which would you choose? In the 16th century, Sir Thomas More ultimately gained sainthood by deciding to be true to himself.
His resolve made a timeless story, "A Man for All Seasons" by Robert Bolt, that was turned into award-winning movies starring Paul Schofield in 1966 and Charlton Heston in 1988. The story also made a compelling stage play that will be presented by the Drama Group this weekend at Bloom High School auditorium in Chicago Heights.
"It's never been done before by the Drama Group," said M.J. Renzi, who will direct the play. "A new version starring Frank Langella just opened on Broadway and it has gotten great reviews. The story has relevancy in politics today."
"A Man for All Seasons" concentrates on the last seven years of More's life in which he is chancellor of England under King Henry VIII (Joe Hoyt). The story revolves around Henry's determination to break with the Roman Catholic church so he can divorce his wife, Catherine, who has left him without an heir to the throne, and then wed his mistress, Anne Boleyn. More is one of the country's most respected men, and the king requests his approval to validate the divorce and remarriage. But More is a devout Catholic, and it goes against his conscience - and it ultimately costs him his life.
To play More, Renzi has cast Chuck Cairns, the Drama Group's man-for-all-great-character roles. Cairns, of Park Forest, adds the role of More to his wealth of riveting roles of historical figures. He has played Ben Franklin (in 2004) and John Adams (in 1976) more than 30 years apart in Drama Group productions of "1776." And, among many others, he has portrayed Henry Drummond, the Clarence Darrow-based character in "Inherit the Wind."
"Chuck is so darn good, I don't know how I can direct him," Renzi said. 'His understanding of the script and insight into the character are perfect."
Despite both Cairns' and Renzi's long associations with the Drama Group, this is their first play together. "He's been a great director," Cairns said of Renzi, who has helmed such stellar Drama Group productions as "The Grapes of Wrath" and "A View From the Bridge."
Newcomer Warren Sampson Jr., of Chicago, will portray Thomas Cromwell, who was More's adversary and the king's No. 1 sycophant. "It's his first time with the Drama Group," Renzi said of Sampson. "He's from the Beverly area and has been doing plays in Chicago. "He's really good."
The cast also includes: • Andy Leahy, of Chicago Heights, as Signor Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador who wants More to speak out publicly against the King.
• Emerson D. Caress, of Cedar Lake, Ind., as Master Richard Rich, the primary betrayer of More.
• Fred Berg, of Park Forest, as the Duke of Norfolk.
• David Luecht, of Joliet, as William Roper.
• Bill Hurley, of Orland Park, as Cardinal Wolsey.
• Bernard Jablonski, of Park Forest, as Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.
• Jonathan Meester, of Chicago Heights, as Chapuys' assistant.
• Deb Cairns, of Park Forest, as More's wife, Lady Alice More.
• Tara Peters, of Bolingbrook, as More's daughter, Lady Margaret More.
• Barbara Whitney, of Richton Park, as Catherine.
• Chuck Kaffka, of Tinley Park, as the Common Man.
Particularly interesting are Deb Cairns and Kaffka.
Deb is Chuck Cairns' real-life wife. They have played opposite each other many times, including in "Moon Over Buffalo" eight years ago. Lady Alice More is highly sympathetic in the play because she and the family must bear the consequences of More's stand on principles. "She's simply terrific," Renzi said of Deb Cairns.
"A Man for All Seasons" is not without humor, however. The Common Man - in which Kaffka plays multiple roles of the Boatman, the Jailer, the Valet and even the Executioner, all with a stylized Cockney accent - acts as the Greek Chorus and provides running - and very fitting -- commentary. This stage role was included in the 1988 film, but not the 1966 one.
'A Man for All Seasons' Where: Bloom High School auditorium, 10th Street and Dixie Highway, Chicago Heights.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: $18 for adults, $17 for students and seniors.
Phone: (708) 755-3444.